Review : The Chieftains - Voice of Ages
Paste magazineThe Chieftains operate under the idea that most American popular music descends from Irish traditions brought across the Atlantic by generations of immigrants, up to and including the band members themselves. Their longevity—five decades and counting—is testament to the persuasiveness of that notion, as is their impressive breadth of collaborations over the past 20 years. In addition to drafting such Irish artists as Sinead O’Connor and Van Morrison to sing with them, they’ve also worked with the likes of Willie Nelson, Mick Jagger, Tom Jones, The Rolling Stones and Ry Cooder, among too many others to name. How long till they do a hip-hop project?
To celebrate a half-century in the business, The Chieftains do what they do best: They play backing band to an array of artists whose music is not quite far removed from Irish jigs, reels and ballads. ...full text
GuardianThe Chieftains, who celebrate their 50th anniversary this year, are still the world's best-loved Irish folk band, both for their superb musicianship and their sense of adventure – working with anyone from Mick Jagger to Alison Krauss or Chinese ensembles. Their last album, San Patricio, recorded with Mexican musicians, was their bravest work to date. This new set has a fashionable cast list, but is more patchy. There are songs from Irish and Scottish singers, but most tracks feature the new celebrities of the Americana movement.
Some of it works well: there's a romping collaboration with Carolina Chocolate Drops, a thoughtful treatment of School Days Over from the Low Anthem and an upbeat The Frost Is All Over featuring the magnificent Punch Brothers. Elsewhere, they provide classy backing for the Civil Wars, Bon Iver and the Decemberists. The best tracks are towards the end, as the Chieftains play without help, then collaborate with astronaut Cady Coleman on a remarkable recording she made in space using instruments borrowed from the band....full text
BBCAnother day, another Chieftains album festooned with celebrity guests. Paddy Moloney’s eager eye for a marketing opportunity occasionally incites cynicism, and it’s tempting to scour the cast list here – Bon Iver, The Low Anthem, The Decemberists, Paolo Nutini, The Civil Wars and Carolina Chocolate Drops are amongst the collaborators – and assume this is merely an attempt by the Chieftains to delay their dotage by attaching themselves to some of the groovier names on the block, in the style of their most successful Chieftains album, The Long Black Veil. Released back in 1995, said collection featured turns from The Rolling Stones, Sting and Mark Knopfler.
Yet it’s that uniquely distinctive Chieftains sound – mellifluous one moment, rip-roaring the next – that’s the heart of the album, even with virtuoso musicians like the Punch Brothers and Galician piper Carlos Núñez on board. The group’s previous album, the Mexican-themed San Patricio, is more challenging and rewarding; but as a tastefully populist exercise this set represents a job well done....full text
Rolling StoneThe Chieftains have collaborated with everyone from Ziggy Marley to Madonna, but this 50th-anniversary album is the Celtic traditionalists' first-ever foray into indie rock. The Decemberists' Colin Meloy spins a springy version of Bob Dylan's "When the Ship Comes In," Bon Iver's Justin Vernon croons a ghostly murder ballad, and alt-country bands like Punch Brothers reel 'n' jig it up nicely. Indie rock's cult of schlubby singing doesn't always merge with the Chieftains' crystalline professionalism. So it takes a real pro – Miranda Lambert's roots band Pistol Annies – to truly shake our shamrock; their sumptuously lilting take on "Come All Ye Fair and Tender Ladies" is sweet and strong like a noon Guinness on a Kerryman's gums....full text
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